Used Hayward taupe paint on this install and love the way it looks!
TDS stands for Total Dissolved Solids. This is the measurement of everything that has ever dissolved in your pool water. Chemicals, algaecides, sweat, hairspray, deodorant, body oils, dead skin, hair, dirt, leaves etc. A swimming pool is a closed system and as the level of TDS rises over time, it can cause problems, reducing chlorine efficacy, giving water a dull appearance and increasing the odds that algae will bloom more easily. Also contained in high levels of TDS are often high levels of phosphates and/or nitrates, which can increase the chlorine demand and provide nutrients to algae.
The TDS level should be under 2000 ppm. When it gets higher than this it can cause skin and eye irritation and metal corrosion of your pool equipment like ladders or hand rails. Cloudy water and scaly deposits also occur more easily when the TDS levels are high. Just like TDS, Calcium hardness is another measurement I like to test once a year, to make sure it does not exceed 1000 ppm. In other states, calcium hardness is considered high at 400 ppm, but in Arizona, water is very hard out of the tap and can be over 300 on a newly filled pool. I personally let it go to 1000 here before I contact a customer about it. Like TDS, high calcium hardness can cause issues with your pool. Cloudy water, calcification of filter cartridges (calcium build up) reducing water flow, and scale build up on tile or metal parts like ladders or hand rails.
When one, or both of these measure high, it is time to change the pool water. It is ideal to swap out the pool water every 3-5 years, but I do test for TDS and calcium hardness every fall.
I've run into a handful of pools recently with a small amount of mustard algae growing on the wall, or steps. Its called mustard algae, because of its greenish/yellow color. Unfortunately it's common to see algae growing in pools this time of year. With warmer temperatures and the fresh feeling of spring, it starts to get windy, or even breezy for days at a time. Flower pollen covers the surface of the water and the dying leaves are falling from the trees as summer approaches. All of these factors all contribute to algae growth. In pebble tech pools, black algae will start to grow on the wall, along the water line, where the pollen is clinging to the pebble tech. Or mustard algae on the wall where dirt had recently been blown into the pool.
Im often surprised to see that algae can survive in the winter, in chlorinated water with a good pH and alkalinity reading, even in temperatures below 55 degrees fahrenheit. Sometimes it's just necessary to add a phosphate remover, to kill off the algae's food source, then I add an algaecide to make the water even less hospitable to the organism. I like an ammonia based algaecide, because copper based products often stain plaster and cleaner hoses purple, requiring an acid wash by a good pool guy to remove the stains. If the algae growth keeps reoccurring, I have been using a mineral rod called Pool Rx. That goes in the pump basket and charges the water with minerals. Water flow thru the basket recharges the water for up to 6 months. I had good luck with that last year when algae kept coming back.
This past week has been breezy and that reminds me that the monsoons are right around the corner. This is a perfect time to trim the bushes back and clean up all the dead leaves, fallen bark and fruit. Debris around the yard easily makes its way into your pool when its windy. Keeping your yard clean will reduce the stress on your cleaning system, help to maintain your water quality and keep the pool looking good all week long.
The text and images in this blog post are credited to onBalance and www.poolhelp.com. Many people over the years have asked me where calcium nodules come from? High water hardness and high pH will cause a uniform layer of calcium scale throughout a pool surface, not isolated and individual spots (bumps) on the floor of the pool, or a vein on the wall. Pool owners or pool professionals servicing the pool are are not the cause. Balanced water will not prevent nodules from forming, but actually facilitates the visible growth that exposes the underlying problem.
What are calcium nodules?
In swimming pools and spas, they are small mounds, bumps, deposits, or “slag” piles of calcium carbonate which are formed from material that has been released from the plaster. The small calcium nodules are rough to the touch, hard, are generally gritty and can cut your feet if you walk on them. Nodules may form singularly (far apart or sporadically), or many and close together along a crack in the plaster surface.
The most common type of nodule is the “delamination” nodule. These nodules grow because of a void (usually a bond separation) between plaster and its substrate. Here is the sequence:
Some pools were never built with an auto leveller, to keep the water level full as the water evaporates. I can make levellers out of 3/4" PVC pipe that hang over the edge of the deck to keep the water level up. This is important. If the water level drops too low as a result of evaporation, the skimmer will draw in air, the pump will loose prime and can overheat.
When pumps run hot, the strainer basket can warp from the heat. Steam is generated in the pump when it runs dry and gets hot. If not realized soon enough, it can cause other problems like a warped shaft, a leak at the shaft seal, the electric motor can overheat and fail, the seal plate can warp, the steam can break down the joint stick that seals the threads on the pumps intake and return nipple, and the steam can debond the PVC glue on fittings near the pump causing leaks. Keeping the water level up is important and will save you money on costly repairs. With a set up like this, the hose used to connect the auto leveller to the spigot should be inspected often and replaced every year. When the hose is under pressure for long periods of time, it can fail at its joints and they do dry out from being in the sun. Hoses are not expensive in a 5/8" diameter and are often on sale.
I like to use a single hose faucet timer on a set up like this. This is simply a safety feature. The timer is a valve that takes pressure off the hose. It can be set to run up to 2 hours continuously, every 12 hours, supplying water to the float valve to top off the pool water each day. In case of an accident, the water cannot run any longer than 4 hours each day, minimizing flooding if the hose were to burst, or the hose connector fails. This is very helpful when my customers live out of state most of the year and I am the only one at the property once a week for months at a time, or if they will be out of town for a vacation and are simply not there to monitor the water top off during the week.
Inside of your skimmer, there is a plastic gate called the weir. The weir is a very small part that makes a very big difference in how clean your pool looks through out the week. Its amazing how often I see the skimmer missing its weir gate and how many people, including pool technicians who clean pools every week, that don't know what it is, or what it does.
The weir gate is simply a way to keep the debris that is sucked into the skimmer, from getting back out into the pool. While the pump is on, the weir gate will be pulled back as water comes into the skimmer and just like the name describes, the water skims over the top of the weir. Styrofoam makes the weir gate buoyant, so when the pump shuts off and there is no longer water pulling across the top of the weir, it stays upright in the skimmer trapping the leaves inside.
Here is a great example of the weir gate doing its job. This last week it has been breezy. Many trees in Arizona are flowering, or dropping leaves this time of year which can litter the surrounding yards for weeks at a time. What you see in the basket would have been floating on the surface of the water had the weir gate not held it back. Not only did the weir gate keep the pool looking cleaner during a breezy week and shedding trees, but the amount of time netting the pool has been reduced by a lot.
Weir gates can break when they become old and brittle, or from a lot of splashing when kids are swimming. If the weir gate is broken, or missing, it should be replaced. You will have a cleaner pool and reduce the time required to net each week as long as the weir is functional.